Thursday, May 13, 2010

You know you looking at a winner? Lebron James, are you a winner?

I logged on to Facebook earlier and saw that two Tanzanian celebs who I've never met before had been tagged in a Facebook video. It's called THE OFFICAL NBA PLAYOFFS ANTHEM: WINNER REMIX BY WAKAZI. Some random Chicago-based Tanzanian musician had remixed Jamie Foxx's track and had a video montage of Tanzania's current favorite sportsman, Hasheem Thabeet. Yes, the guy who was a defensive force for UCONN in last college year, went high in the NBA draft and then became infamous for being the highest draft pick to be sent to the NBA's D-Developmental league. Hey, Thabeet may be a tough NBA life but the jury's not yet out on whether he'll be a winner, winner, winner. Lebron James on the other hand, is arguably the best basketball player on the planet and faces the biggest game of his life tomorrow. After 7 ringless years in the league, how that game goes on Thursday, May 13, will go a long way to determine how much of a winner Lebron James is.

I am a huge NBA fan. Though I am tall, at least when compared to many of my friends, I cannot play basketball for the life of me. I used to get a lot of you should play basketball questions when I was in Syracuse. Funny enough, I never received any when I was in Ghana. I can't dribble, I can't shoot, I can't even freakn rebound. All I can do is set screens, block out and pass harrassing defense. I am the anti-Lebron James. Lebron James is the most skilled NBA today. "Just look at me soarin'; Feelin' like Jordan". Some may argue that that is rather Kobe, but held true until about a year ago. Lebron can do all Kobe can do and more. Kobe is still the biggest closer in the game. If you really need a bucket, you give the ball to Kobe. That's to his credit but if you lead your ream in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals and your team has the best record in basketball, you're the best basketball player alive. Sorry, Kobe and non-Lebron fans.

May 11. Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland. Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semis. Boston Celtics versus the Cleveland Cavaliers. Coming into the playoffs, most people saw the Celtics as an inconsistent talented bunch who couldn't play 48 minutes of good basketball. For Celtics fans who witnessed their storybook 2008 season, this 2010 regular season was an eyesore. They lost too many home games and even though they had three Hall of Famers in the starting five, they allowed many teams to 'comeback' on them in the 4th quarter. And then they met Dwyane Wade's Miami Heat. It looked like a good bet that Wade would play his superstar game and knock Boston out of the playoffs though he was surrounded by a supporting cast that made look like David when Israel faced Goliath. Maybe Doc Rivers' Ubuntu crew was waiting all season for the playoffs because they have become a different team. Rajon Rondo has been magnificent, Kevin Garnett is not as intense but he's playing much better than he did all year, Ray Allen has become consistent, Paul Pierce is winning games by himself and the other Celtics are stepping up at crucial times.

The Cavs? They had to get by a Chicago Bulls team which just never backs down. You just can't sweep a team led by Joakim Noah and Derrick Rose. Skip Bayless, an ESPN pundit, made a prediction before the Celtics-Cavs series saying, "If Lebron doesn't take a single 3-pointer, the Cavs will win the series easily". Well, whowouldhavethought? Lebron has missed all 13 3-pointers he's taken in this series and the Cavs are done 3-2 and the next game is in Boston. "I feel like I can’t miss; I know they want me to fall; But ain’t nothing bigger than this; So just pass me the ball". For those unaware, if Boston wins this 'home' game, they knock out the Lebrons Cavs. Lebron has not played really well but then again, like Lionel Messi, if you play good defense, you can always slow down the best player. Lebron's teammates haven't picked up the slack. The Big-Aristole-Big-Rental-former-Superman Shaq is too slow and can't rebound no more. Mo'Williams follows big games with small ones. Antwan Jamison seems to flourish when he's playing with teammates worse than he is. The other teammates are role players who do maybe one or two things quite well. "You know you looking at a winner!"

At the centre of it all is Lebron James. His stats alone will make him one of the top 10 NBA players of all time even though he has only played 7 years. But, he has never won a championship. I really feel that this is the year he has to win a championship. Every player goes through some tough times before they break out. Lebron has had enough of those and if it continues this year, he'll become the next Karl Malone or Charles Barkley. This Cavs team is the best he's been with and are the favorites to win it all. They won the big regular season games, and they've addressed all their holes. Mike Brown is still suspect for his capabilities to coach offense, but the Cavs have enough weapons to outscore teams all day.

Lebron shot 3 for 14 in Game 5 in front of his hometown crowd in Cleveland as the Cavs got blown out by 32 points. He, and the team were booed. Lebron was chastized for not playing hard enough. He pointed out after the game that he's had maybe 3 bad games in all his playoff career that people easily remember the bad ones. "I make this look easy; And ya’ll thinking I’m seasoned". We've heard reports that his elbow is bruised but no one wants to hear that as an excuse. Not even Lebron. Lebron is a free agent after this season ends and though it looks likely he may stay with Cleveland, people believe he will bolt for New York, New Jersey, Chicago or Miami. Lebron James has said that he wants to become the first billion dollar athlete. Yes, we've never heard him say he wants to be better than Michael Jordan. So many people believe he's after the money and the fame and not necessarily the championships and the wins. "You know you looking at a winner; I can’t miss, Can’t lose, Can’t miss". That doesn't really sound like a winner to me. Now the talk about him leaving his home-town Cleveland is going to be sent into overdrive if the Cavaliers happen to lose Game 6 today. Bring it on!

The problem with Lebron is, he has to know his strengths. He has the talent, he has the heart, he has the competitive nature as well. People praise him for him being a good teammate (unlike say Kobe or Michael Jordan) but I think he is not as smart a basketball player as we think. I think he should not shoot more than 3 pointers in any game. He is too gifted to be standing around in one corner and jacking up jump shots. Force the refs to blow whistles. Force a double team and get your teammate an open shot. Take the surest option. It's the smart thing to do. The fact that Lebron can explode for 25 straight points doesn't mean that it will happen every night. He's the team's best defender, rebounder and assist man. He should concentrate on doing those things.

It was funny reading the various tweets about Lebron's debacle in Game 5. Here's a selection of tweets. "Someone said, that Boston Celtics victory was the biggest playoff win in Knicks" history" "Charles Barkley just compared LeBron James unfavorably to Patrick Ewing and Karl Malone. In effort and attitude". "LeBron has spoiled me with his zero championships and endless stream of commercials". "". ""LeBron James never has been a factor in this game". #ThingsNoOneSaidAboutJordan". "LeBron should wear a Joe Johnson jersey to the postgame presser". "Forget next year, Michael Jordan wants LeBron to change his number right now".

I will make it known. I am rooting for Lebron James and the Cavaliers to win the NBA championship this year. So, Lebron and the rest of the Cavs, don't let me down tonight. Go out and win. In Boston. Lebron, you can't go out this way. Or you can choose to do so this way and leave for New York if being a billion-dollar athlete is the most important thing to you. "Just like a drink that I’m enjoyin';
And don’t mean bottles you up and rejoice"
Boston is playing well alright, but they lost heavily to these same Cavs in Boston. So it's not entirely impossible. We saw Lebron and his teammates dancing and fooling around last year when the times were good. When Lebron was sent fishing by my cousin Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic, he couldn't stay to shake his opponents' hands. Lebron has to be more mature than that. We know he is a sore loser but is he a winner? Will his legend be remembered as a winner? He can start that legacy the tonight.

By the way, this really is one of the best songs ever. The NBA always has some great campaigns, they change it every year for the playofss and it's still always great. This Jamie Foxx, Justin Timberlake, TI song is the bestest. "Winner"

I feel like I can’t miss
I know they want me to fall
But ain’t nothing bigger than this
So just pass me the ball
You know you looking at a winner
I can’t miss, Can’t lose, Can’t miss
You know you looking at winner
`Cause I’m a winner
Yeah I’m a winner

See this blog post I wrote about one of the best known winners in all of sports history, Michael Jordan.
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